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2014 Summer Research Scholars Program

Horticulture Research Projects

What project will you work on during your internship as a Summer Research Scholar?  You should chose three (3) projects from the list below and note them in order of preference (e.g., 2, 4, 1) at the bottom of the APPLICATION FORM.  We will do our best to accommodate your top choice.

Faculty members associated with each project are also listed.  You can read more about their programs by clicking on their names.

Apple Trees

1. Space saving columnar apple trees!

Although most apple trees branch and grow rapidly in size, there are compact ones, called columnar apple trees, which are slow in growth, have little branching, and require less space and pruning in orchards. Join us in the ongoing hunt to uncover the columnar genes, while learning basic techniques in plant genomics, such as DNA and RNA isolation, DNA sequencing, and gene expression analysis.
Lab: 90%, Field or greenhouse: 10%.

Faculty: Xu

Which wood to chuck in your tank?

2. Which wood to chuck in your tank?

Fast-growing shrub willow is one of the sustainable perennial crops being developed as a feedstock for biofuels. You will use high-throughput analytical techniques to characterize differences and map the genes controlling wood composition in our willow breeding program, so we can identify cultivars with improved efficiency of conversion to biofuels.
Lab: 80%, Field: 20%

Faculty: L. Smart

Exploring Natural Colors in Vegetables

3. Exploring Natural Colors in Vegetables

Work within a plant breeding program exploring different colors in vegetables. Evaluate colors and their concentrations in different plant tissues and help to create a more colorful future for vegetables.
Lab: 50% Field: 50%

Faculty: Griffiths

Apple Tree

4. That can’t be an apple tree!!

Most apples are Malus x domestica or cultivated apple, but there are over 25 Malus species that can be used in breeding or to study the genes influencing plant architecture, leaf morphology and flowering. When these species are crossed, apple interspecific hybrids are created. This project will explore the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of some of these hybrids. Study of these unique plants will change your view of what an apple tree should look like.
60% field, 40% laboratory

Faculty: Brown

Dont get burned

5. Hop onto willow

Certain cultivars of shrub willow bioenergy crops are very sensitive to a common insect pest, potato leafhopper (Empoasca fabae), which causes leaf curling and tip dieback called ‘hopperburn’. Initial research suggests that resistance is related to host preference. You will do choice and no choice feeding experiments, then collect tissue for RNA extraction and RNA-Seq to better understand the genetic basis of potato leafhopper resistance in willow.
Lab: 80% Field: 20%

Faculty: L. Smart

Willow Field

6. Black rot resistance in wild grape species

When the fungal pathogen ‘black rot’ attacks grapevines, the plant exhibits disease symptoms ranging from necrotic lesions on the leaf surface to mummified berries. However, some native species of grapevines do not exhibit disease symptoms post infection because they harbor genes that help to defend against pathogen attack. The goal of your summer project will be to survey wild grapevine species within the USDA repository and identify the plants that are resistant to black rot.  You will spend about ¼ of your time harvesting grapevine species from the germplasm collection and the other ¾ of your time phenotyping them for black rot resistance using microscopy.
Field: 25%, Lab: 75%

Faculty: Reisch

Apple Diversity

7. Do you like sour apples?

Which apple(s) do you like the most? The traditional McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Jonagold or new apple varieties such as Honeycrisp, New York 1 and New York 2, and why? Your answers may vary widely, but fruit sourness (acidity) or sweetness is most likely among the factors that affect your preference. Wondering about what apple fruit acidity is, how widely fruit acidity levels may vary in apple, what causes fruit acidity, and how fruit acidity is determined at the genetic and molecular levels? Please come and have a bite of one of our research projects that studies apple fruit acidity!
Lab 90%, Field or greenhouse 10%.

Faculty: Xu


8. Doubling down on willow

Shrub willow species have multiple ploidy levels ranging from 2X to 12X which makes genetics a challenge, but offers great opportunities for breeding. In this project, you will use compounds that are known to cause chromosome doubling to create an autotetraploid from a diploid and confirm that by flow cytometry. The lines you create will be used in breeding triploid shrub willows.
Lab: 70% Field/Greenhouse: 30%

Faculty: L. Smart